Houston Rockets intent on making big free agent splash — will they sign Harden or Irving?


The Denver Nuggets might currently rule the NBA‘s Western Conference, but it sure seems like the Houston Rockets intend to challenge their newfound supremacy in the coming seasons.

New head coach Ime Udoka is taking over a young Houston core that includes Jalen Green, Kevin Porter, Jr. and Jabari Smith, Jr. But the franchise wants to take a leap in 2023/24 and plans to weaponize its nearly $60 million in cap space to add one of the game’s elite point guards to the Green/Porter/Smith trio.

The question is: which one will the Rockets pursue?

Harden “torn,” but remains top option

James Harden is set to decline his player option with the Philadelphia 76ers and reach free agency next month, perhaps with the intent of returning to Houston.

Harden played for the Rockets between 2012 and 2020, guiding them to the playoffs every season and to within one win of the NBA Finals in 2018. Houston has not been back to the postseason since he was traded to Brooklyn, and then to Philadelphia.

Is Kyrie Irving “Plan B”?

According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, the Rockets are in no mood to give up if Harden re-signs in Philadelphia or heads elsewhere in free agency.

Kyrie Irving has been tight-lipped about his future, but Stein believes Houston will pursue Harden’s former Nets teammate if he does not re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks. Irving reportedly has already asked former Cleveland teammate LeBron James if he would be interested in teaming up in Dallas, which could indicate where Kyrie‘s priorities lie.

Either way, the Rockets seem serious this summer, and a jolt up the standings could be on the cards.

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